First recorded in 1590–1600; from Latin vacillātus (past participle of vacillāre “to sway to and fro”); see -ate1 (Source:

Late 16th century (in the sense ‘sway unsteadily’): from Latin vacillat- ‘swayed’, from the verb vacillare. (Source:

Definitions of Vacillate


verb (used without object)

  1. to waver in mind or opinion; be indecisive or irresolute:
  2. to sway unsteadily; waver; totter; stagger.
  3. to oscillate or fluctuate.



  1. to fluctuate in one's opinions; be indecisive
  2. to sway from side to side physically; totter or waver



  1. Waver between different opinions or actions; be indecisive.



  1. : to waver in mind, will, or feeling : hesitate in choice of opinions or courses
  2. : to sway through lack of equilibrium
  3. : fluctuate, oscillate

Example sentences for Vacillate

  1. I kind of self-edit that out of the history, but they did vacillate for quite a while.
  2. It seems like you vacillate between 10 and 20 members at any given time.
  3. Van der Sloot appears to vacillate between apologetic and aloof in his response, captured on hidden camera.
  4. This was a severe disappointment to Bessy, and left her an alternative that required more than courage, but she did not vacillate.
  5. Long did he vacillate whether Tom Keane should not be arrested on suspicion.
  6. "He is too independent to vacillate on account of ridicule," said Ida.
  7. They vacillate, conforming now to the interest of the wage-workers, now to the interest of the employers.
  8. It is wiser to be wrong and not hesitate than to vacillate and be right.

Related words & Synonyms

hesitate, reel, waffle, seesaw, waver, fluctuate, dither, oscillate, hesitate, hover, reel, rock, alternate, straddle, stagger, pause, swing, hedge, sway, change, hem and haw, shilly-shally

Nearby words

vaccinization , vaccinology , Vachel , Vacherin , vacillant , vacillating , vacillation , vacillatory , VACTERL syndrome , vacua

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